Second unit director Darrin Prescott talks about his work on Edgar Wright's new thriller
Baby Driver second unit director and stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott has an impressively action-packed filmography, which includes The Bourne Ultimatum, Drive, and both John Wick movies. But when Entertainment Weekly visited the Atlanta set of Edgar Wright’s thriller last year, even Prescott admitted that the director’s request for the onscreen action in this tale of a music-obsessed getaway driver to occur in time with the movie’s soundtrack was a tall order.
“It’s a challenging film,” said Prescott of the new film (out now), which stars Ansel Elgort as the titular driver. “Every day is a huge day. Most of it is car stuff, but the challenge is that we’re trying to time everything to music. So, we’ve taken an already challenging task, and just put the icing on the cake, with the addition of the music. I think the final product is going to be amazing. It’s really cool and Edgar’s got a great vision for it. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done. Man, it should be a class in film school — you go out and choreograph something to a mainstream song.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What did you think when this was first suggested? Because, to me, it sounds like telling a juggler he’s got to juggle while walking a tightrope at the same time.
DARRIN PRESCOTT: Right. [Laughs] I thought it was an amazing challenge. I figured there was some methodology that we needed to figure out to make it work. We knew the stunts we wanted to do. We would find the locations, measure them out, and then we’d go down to Atlanta Motor Speedway, and we’d actually drive the car that we’re going to use in the shot, and we’d time it out, and then we’d cut it into an animatic, and little by little we’d piece that animatic together.
Are there any particular stunts or sequences that were particularly challenging — or that you were particularly pleased to pull off?
Yeah, we did this stunt that I’ve wanted to do for years. I’m not sure that many people even know what it is. It’s called the “180 in, 180 out.” It’s a high-speed, high-level driving gag where basically Jeremy Fry (Prescott’s fellow stunt coordinator and a stunt driver) comes down, and throws a forward 180, and then, within that moment, he now throws a reverse 180. I’ve always been looking for a gag where I could play that. So, we found this alley, and then we filled it with a bunch of trucks, and dumpsters, and things like that. So, basically, Baby is coming down this alley, and it looks like he’s got a lane clear, but, as he comes halfway down, this truck pulls out, and basically creates this keyhole. And so Jeremy, at about 70 miles an hour, throws this forward 180, so he dances the car around the obstacles, and we’re trying to everything in camera on this. A different movie would have just done that in a parking lot on green screen. But we’re really trying to do everything in camera and the room for error was — there wasn’t a lot, man, it was cool.
This definitely has a tone to it. It’s not Fast and the Furious, by any means. It’s closer to a Ronin, or a Drive, or something like that. We’ve tried to really keep everything practical and in camera. The great thing about this is, all the driving that people are going to see is actual high performance driving. There’s not tricks, there’s no CG, it’s pretty cool.
How many cars are you destroying?
I don’t know. We’ve gone through quite a few. The Subarus we keep breaking them, because we’re pushing them. We’re asking a lot of them. The Mercedes, we broke a lot in prep because we needed it to drift. We’re basically taking the millions, and millions, of dollars Mercedes spent to keep that car and safe, and trying to override all of that. We ended up breaking the Mercedes a bunch of times. They had to ship in axles from different places. It’s a challenge, man. [Laughs] Each day seems like challenge, Clark. I’m so tired man! I’m so tired!
You look fine.
I do? I’m only 18!
Watch the trailer for Baby Driver, above.